DENA MOES is a Hollywood born, Yale-educated midwife with a BA in literature and an MS in Nursing. Dena is a songwriter, essayist, and the author of The Buddha Sat Right Here: A Family Odyssey Through India and Nepal, publication date April 2, 2019. Her book is a memoir of adventure, motherhood, and love, woven into a spiritual journey. As a nurse-midwife Dena has provided compassionate healthcare to women, mothers, and babies for twenty years.
Learn more about Dena and order her book at https://denamoes.com
Biggest literary influencers:
Judy Blume, Kurt Vonnegut, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Peter Mathiessen, Gloria Steinem, and Cheryl Strayed.
Last book read:
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris. This memoir is a meditation on exploration and borderlands, wrapped in a woman’s rugged bicycle journey from Turkey to Tibet along Marco Polo’s silk road.
The book that changed your life:
Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. Reading Judy Blume’s books in my childhood and early adolescence, I felt I was living the experiences I read in those volumes. I was a lonely, awkward child and her authentic, relatable characters helped me feel less alone and isolated. She gave voice to difficult emotions I did not have the vocabulary to express at the time. I couldn’t put her books down – I would read the entire thing in one night under my blanket with a flashlight, and then I would read it again and again. Her work revealed the power of literature to elicit empathy, connection, and new understanding. The material was also so down-to-earth and realistic, they inspired me to start writing too. And I haven’t stopped.
Your favorite literary character:
In the past few years I have been fascinated by memoir. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction! You can’t make this stuff up! In Wild, Cheryl Strayed is a troubled young woman who takes an epic hero’s journey. Her 2000 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail transforms and heals her, and the inner and outer journeys beautifully reflect on and support each other. Her courage and vulnerability have inspired me to take my own hero’s journey through India and Nepal, and write my own story of transformation.
Currently working on: I am gestating my next book, about my career as a home birth midwife. Think Call the Midwife set in modern Northern California. It is tentatively titled Rebel Midwife.
Words to live by:
The Journey itself is my home. – Basho
We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. – Anais Nin
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
Stories are powerful medicine – if you are inspired to write – write! I believe in shitty first drafts, just get words onto the page, and revise and edit later. Write for yourself, write from your heart, and your audience will love it too. Just be forewarned – the road to publication may be bumpier than the writing, so take it one step at a time, and don’t cling to pie in the sky hopes. Be at peace in the process.
“The Buddha Sat Right Here redefines what memoirs can be. Moes spins a great tale of family, adventure, human connection, and generosity.”
―Rita Banerjee, Director, MFA in Writing & Publishing, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and author of Echo in Four Beats and CREDO
“The Buddha Sat Right Here, like India, is a veritable kaleidoscope of experiences. Vacillating between that of a vibrant travelogue, a heartwarming family tale, a spiritual study, and a comedy sketch, Dena Moes’s fine storytelling captures the human character of international travel.”
“Prepare to be inspired! What a gift to be invited along on this down-to-earth journey of enlightenment. The Buddha Sat Right Here will open your heart, crack you up, and maybe even radically change all the ways you engage in parenting, adventure, and the Buddhist path. Dena Moes’s writing is magical.”
– Ariel Gore, bestselling author and founder of Hip Mama